Summary: Being meek is not what we thought it was!
(Sermon #5 of "Sermon On The Mount" series.)
Parkview Church of the Nazarene
J. Richard Lord, Jr.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! This Earth Is Yours!”
This scripture is one of the most commonly misunderstood scriptures in all the Bible.
One of the common misunderstandings about Christianity from the outside world is that once we become a Christian, we are supposed to become mild, weak and unable to stand against oppression. Since the Christians message is about “peace,” it is automatically assumed that we will “lay down our weapons” and aren’t “gonna go to war no more.”
The term “meek” in the English language has become to mean, “enduring injury with patience and without resentment, mild, deficient in spirit and courage, submissive, not violent or strong, moderate.” (Merriam-Webster) While some elements of this definition fit what Jesus was commanding us to do, some of those elements do not fit.
The world, in its ideals, tends to reject Christianity because of the idea that Christians are weak, and “deficient in courage.”
A closer examination of the Greek word “praus,” translated “meek,” shows us that Jesus is teaching us a principle that shows that if we follow the true meaning of “meek,” the earth will belong to us.
Originally, the word translated meek did not include any concept of weakness, lack of courage, or fear. If you want to get an idea of what true meekness means in its original sense, and how it applies in English, you have to go back to the middle ages to a word that is associated with the knighthood. It is the word, “chivalry.”
Chivalry is the belief and practice of knights in the middle ages and even today. Chivalry was a code of ethics upheld by noble landholders and/or knights who were influenced by Christianity. The chivalric knight was loyal, courteous, protective, and gentle and honorable to all, including enemies. Knights sought love and glory, but not selfish love and glory; love and glory for his lady and king first. Knights were courageous, humble, obedient, and chaste. The three things that knights lived by: courage, honor, and fidelity.
The code of knighthood stressed loyalty to their
military leader, participation in wars, and courage. The church codes stressed protection, humility, and service to the weak and poor. Since knights devoted themselves to the Virgin Mary, this is probably where their worshipful attitudes toward women came about. Women were literally treated as queens by chivalric men. They were respectful, worshipful, and reverent toward women. A knight’s love for a lady was known as courtly love. To a knight, love and war was the ultimate sacrifice. Knights upheld their lady’s every "whim or desire", no matter what the cost, even if it meant death.
The French word “debonair” is a term that was used frequently in the description of knights. In its medieval meaning, it meant “gentle, courteous.”
The title of “gentlemen” was given to knights of old. The women of standing, who had shown themselves worthy of protection, were given the title of “ladies.”
Even in our modern military, the “knights” of our military, if you will, are the officers. A person going through officer training is not only schooled in the art of warfare but is also taught the fine arts of etiquette and diplomacy. They are taught how to behave in high class social settings and how to conduct themselves in a manner that is conducive to good relations between nations. Indeed, they have been given the title of an “officer and a gentleman.” I suppose that today a woman officer would be called “an officer and a lady.”
Once you begin to see the word “meek” in this light, you begin to understand that Jesus is teaching us a principle that can greatly help us understand the true nature of a follower of Jesus Christ and also find a measure of success in this life.
Jesus’ teaching is ultimately practical. He is, in all of his preaching and teaching, is not only redeeming us from our sin, but also giving us a formula for success in service to Him and a mindset, or attitude adjustment, if you will, that will help us accomplish it. He is trying to teach us, in effect, how to be true “ladies and gentlemen.”
We have, in our modern American culture, the idea that courage and toughness are synonymous with brashness, rough talk, and lack of concern with etiquette and diplomacy.
If you have a person who is properly mannered, concerned with etiquette, the niceties of life, and is known as a humble person, you get the image of “Mr. Milquetoast,” a person with no courage and a person that is easily manipulated.
Today, the young people call them “nerds” and geeks.” You have the caricature of the young slender boy with slicked back hair, horn-rimmed